The Roots of the Insurgency
Bremer's de-Baathification only made things worse.
Updated Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004, at 1:11 PM
New Yorker, Nov. 15.
Jon Lee Anderson investigates how the decision by L. Paul Bremer III to de-Baathify Iraq "unequivocally" contributed to the current insurgency. Although the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority still stands by his decision to ban the party—after all, it "had been virtually synonymous with Saddam Hussein's regime; it was the instrument through which Iraqis were brutalized"—many believe the cooperation of some Baathists could have helped U.S. efforts in Iraq. Even non-Baathists, such as Mudher Khairbit, believe "the ban had been a mistake": "By banning the Baath Party, the Americans made it more powerful, more popular." ... James Surowiecki analyzes how Bush's push to create an "ownership society" will hurt, rather than help, individuals. "Social Security, Medicare, insurance—these are basically risk-sharing mechanisms. Rather than let each person run the risk of ending up destitute or sick, these programs pool the risk. Because the risk is shared, it can be managed."—J.H.P.
U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 15 President Bush's appeal to voters was, well, his appeal to voters: He won partly because he "was simply better at connecting" with Americans says one U.S. News story. "Though Kerry has no reason to be ashamed of his campaign, and though he did an excellent job in his three debates, he simply was unable to connect with voters on an emotional level."... Bush focuses on his legacy this term, says another piece, citing "Reforming the tax code, perhaps by enacting a flat tax or a national sales tax," as one component of his agenda. But, "Bush is vulnerable to second-term mistakes, some say, because of his instinct to plow ahead no matter how much criticism he gets." Bush's chief legacy could be his influence on the Supreme Court, should he get the likely opportunity to appoint justices. The magazine cites J. Michael Luttif of the 4th Circuit and Samuel Alito of the 3rd Circuit as contenders.—J.H.P.
Weekly Standard, Nov. 15 If Democrats want to win the next election, they need to learn how to talk about faith, says one feature. "[T]he Democratic party elite continues to regard purple prose about the Almight as a no-no. Unless that changes, the Democratic party, bred and led mainly by staunchly secular pro-choice liberals, will die before 2020."(Read Robert Reich and Steven Waldman in Slate on why faith is important to the Democrats.)... Another piece says Bush can avoid major second-term gaffes by retaining key staff members. It's not Powell or Rumsfeld who we need to keep America safe, "but Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser. To keep Rice, Bush might have to elevate her to secretary of state. He'd be smart to do it." The article also warns that Republican gains in the Senate can help Bush but, "that's hardly a filibuster-proof majority." "The day after the election Bush said he'd 'work to earn' the support of Democrats. He'd best start right away."—J.H.P.
Time, Nov. 15 Time churns out a special election issue with a range of pieces, from a retrospective of pivotal campaign moments to a look at the Democratic Party's future. One piece paints a detailed portrait of both contestants on the day of the election. While Kerry, buoyed by news of the exit polls moved from "wild hope to stunned despair," Bush obviously experienced the opposite effect. The reason for Bush's ultimate success? "The weight that voters attached to values suggests that Rove's single-minded attention to the goal of turning out 4 million more evangelical voters than in 2000 may have paid off." (Slate says it wasn't moral values that Bush over the top here.) … Separate pieces explore potential candidates in 2008. Hillary Rodham Clinton is cited as a top Democratic contender, along with John Edwards and Howard Dean. Potential Republican candidates? Try Rudy Giuliani, Jeb Bush, John McCain, and Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist.—J.H.P.
Newsweek, Nov. 15 Newsweek reporters reveal their behind-the-scenes experiences on the campaign trail, dishing more on Kerry than on Bush. Revelations about the Bush clan are along the lines of how a friend "worried that the President's heart really wasn't in this [campaign]," or that the Bush daughters "simpered and giggled" through their introduction at the GOP Convention, but "they were hurt by the reviews."... Details about Kerry, on the other hand, include Kerry's active pursuit of John McCain as running mate. According to one piece, Kerry "made an outlandish offer. If McCain said yes, he would expand the role of vice president to include secretary of Defense and the overall control of foreign policy." When McCain replied, "You're out of your mind," Kerry "was thwarted and furious about it," asking "an intermediary … 'Why the f--- didn't he take it?' "… Another article reveals how at one point during the campaign, Kerry says of Bush, "I can't believe I'm losing to this idiot."—J.H.P.
New Republic, Nov. 15 The editors mourn the defeat of "[t]he convictions and the dreams of American liberalism" on Election Night. Bush's slight margin of victory proves that a slightly more inspiring campaign by Kerry could have reversed the outcome. In the long run, though, despair is not warranted: "American liberalism did not die on November 2. It merely lost an election."… "TRB"warns Democrats against abandoning social liberalism or mocking red-state values. Democrats should support gay marriage because it "is morally momentous and morally right." But they should avoid "cultural elitism" and hope for a draw on cultural issues while winning elections on a compelling economic and national security agenda. … An article describes how Bush "recreated the Reagan-era coalition by combining Brooks Brothers and Wal-Mart." He appealed to high-income voters with tax cuts while posing as a "simple Texan of conservative faith" to win socially conservative low-income voters.—D.K.
Economist, Nov. 4
George W. Bush "has a real electoral mandate at last, and this article tells him what to to do with it: He "would do well to focus now on pragmatism over ideology," appointing Democrats to his Cabinet and nominating moderate Supreme Court justices. In foreign policy, Bush needs to send more troops to Iraq and take a more active role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.... Another article points out that Hillary Clinton "is the big Democratic winner from Tuesday night's debacle" and anoints her the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Clinton possesses a "Bush-like ability to bring out the worst in her opponents" and could be popular in the American suburbs, which Democrats must win back from the Republicans.... A piece discusses how Dutch society is reacting to the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by radical Muslims: The lack of assimilation of Muslim immigrants into Holland's socially liberal society has provoked calls for the government to enforce integration.—D.K.
New York Times Magazine, Nov. 7. The cover story investigates how Dr. Keiji Fukuda and Dr. Tim Uyeki, both physicians with the Centers for Disease Control, struggle to stifle the threat of a "worldwide flu pandemic," given avian flu outbreaks in Asia. The challenges involved are varied: Not only does influenza's high tendency to mutate make creating a vaccine exceptionally difficult but, as Fukuda explains, sometimes "political considerations begin to outweigh the interests of epidemiology." The National Institutes of Health is working toward testing a vaccine for one type of avian flu, known as H5N1, by early 2005, "[b]ut if the circulating H5N1 strain changes significantly between now and then, the vaccine could be rendered less effective before it's even ready."… Another article examines how Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millenium Development Goals, aims to bring global poverty to an end—at a $150 billion per year price tag.—J.H.P.
New York Review of Books, Nov. 18
David Cole hails the death of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness plan but warns that "federal programs to collect and search vast computer databases" containing information about Americans continues. The Patriot Act is the central focus of his attacks because it contradicts two qualities necessary for a healthy democracy: "transparency in government and respect for personal privacy." ... J.M. Coetzee tries to separate fact from fiction in a discussion of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. Setting his story in the early 1940s, Roth imagines an American "slide into fascism" led by an anti-Semitic Lindbergh administration. This alternate reality is a dramatization of the persistent Jewish fear of persecution and isolation, "a world of them and us." ... John Updike fondly remembers James Thurber and E.B. White's Is Sex Necessary?, which catalogs the physically awkward and emotionally embarrassing difficulties of human attraction. The lighthearted book "stands as a rare conjunction of singular talents."—D.K.
David Kenner is a former Slate intern.